Wilson Gallery workshop

On Saturday 7th October, a group of art scholars, students and Mrs Ellis visited the Wilson Gallery in Cheltenham to attend a watercolour workshop. We were warmly greeted by Sophia, who was our teacher for the day.

In order for us to gain inspiration of watercolour techniques and understand the potential of the medium, we first went to view the 'Queen Victoria in Paris' exhibition of watercolours from the Royal collection. All of the watercolour pieces exhibited were commissioned or gifted to Queen Victoria as souvenirs during her momentous state visit to Paris, in August 1855.

The collection included Victorian scenes of luxurious living rooms, lively ballroom events, natural scenery and even military parades. We were astounded at the detail in each of the pieces, despite the modest scale. The ornamentation that decorated the architecture and interior design of the scenes was incredible. We were also surprised at the vibrancy in colours of the watercolour.

Next we visited The Paper Store, where some watercolours of Dr Edward Adrian Wilson and the Wilson Family were presented. We viewed the lovely paintings of small animals and plants, and the breath-taking sunsets that Dr Wilson would have experienced on his two expeditions to Antarctica.

Finally, it was time to start using the watercolours. Sophia introduced us to a third form of watercolour, brusho, and we used different materials such as sponges and wax to learn a multitude of techniques. Although the activities were quite simple, this enabled each student to experiment in their own way, resulting in a range of unique paintings. I was quite interested in the textures created by the ‘wet-on-wet’ technique and the works that can be produced from a limited colour palette.

The visit ended with Sophia mentioning that the Wilson Gallery is arranging an exhibition of bird watercolour paintings and inviting each of us to contribute a painting. Excited at the opportunity and our improved familiarity of watercolour, we immediately made agreements to submit the paintings.

Bernice Wong (SFC2)